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The California Lady Pintos got off to a good start Saturday morning and it showed in their energy.

The second quarter wasn't so good in the game against the Monroe City Lady Panthers in the Central Bank Shootout at Rackers Fieldhouse. But that same effort was there.

"We shot the basketball very well early, it's easy to have energy when the shots are falling," California coach Bobby Sangster said after the Lady Pintos topped the Lady Panthers 66-53. "But as a head coach, you're pleased when you see you keep your energy when those same shots aren't falling, which is what happened in the second quarter."

California was 10-of-21 from the field in the opening quarter — including five 3-pointers — as the Lady Pintos vaulted to a 26-14 advantage.

That turned in the second quarter. The Lady Pintos hit just three of their 18 attempts as the Lady Panthers climbed back to within eight at 37-29 at intermission.

"When you missed as many shots as we did, they're going to close the gap on you," Sangster said. "But the girls never lost faith and kept battling.

"As a staff, we felt we were doing good and still in a very good position."

The two teams swapped points in the third quarter, which ended with the Lady Pintos holding a 48-38 advantage.

California maintained that double-digit lead throughout the final quarter. The Lady Pintos led by as many as 16 points before settling on the 13-point final margin.

"I was happy with the execution and the effort of the girls, all of it," Sangster said. "It was a fun game."

California junior Gracie George had a big game Saturday, finishing with 10 points in the fourth quarter on her way to a 24-point contest.

George also pulled down 10 rebounds.

"I know she was disappointed in her play after Thursday night's game against Eldon, but she worked hard in practice Friday on some things and made some adjustments that paid off in a big, big way," Sangster said.

California finished with a 49-35 edge in rebounds Saturday.

"It sure didn't feel like it," Sangster said. "We knew that would be a key to getting a victory. But there are times you don't feel like you did very well and you go back and look at the stats and you go 'wow, I guess we did do a good job there.'"

Elizabeth Lutz added 12 points for California (16-4), who will play Versailles on Monday.

Jada Summers finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds for Monroe City (18-3), while Delanie Okenfuss added 15 points.

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